POLICE officers are being asked to volunteer their services to help remember fallen heroes on Remembrance Day.
At present marchers taking part in Houghton’s Remembrance Day commemorations in November are escorted by a motorway maintenance wagon with yellow lights flashing driving slowly ahead of the parade.
But Copt Hill councillor Colin Wakefield said this was an “indignity” and has asked Sunderland police officers to consider working on their day off to provide a more fitting tribute to the city’s war dead.
“These parades need to be shown the dignity they deserve,” said the independent councillor.
“At the moment we’ve got a motorway maintenance truck which precedes the parade with its lights flashing. I think it’s disgraceful and disrespectful, and it gets a lot of people’s goats.
“I’ve asked Chief Superintendent Kay Blyth (from Sunderland Area command) if she will seek volunteers from her uniformed officers to manage and escort the Remembrance Day parades.”
The Houghton parade musters in the Houghton Sports Complex car park and marches along Newbottle Street to St Michael and All Angels Church, where a service takes place. Remembrance Sunday is November 13 this year.
Coun Wakefield said it would take only a small number of officers and one police vehicle about half an hour to escort the parade.
He said other parades were in a similar situation. Sunderland City Council handled the road closures needed for marches.
Chief Supt Kay Blyth said: “Wherever possible we provide a police presence at the events. We obviously provide a contingent of officers at the city centre event, which is entirely voluntary. Those officers come in on their day off to march as part of the contingent.”
“She added: “As with all resourcing issues, it’s a fine line between putting resources out on the street to deliver the crime and disorder priorities that we have, but wherever possible the neighbourhood policing teams do provide a presence at the events.
“I can’t compel people to come in on their day off to provide the presence, but wherever possible I do out-of-duty resources.”
Dave Smith, chief executive of Sunderland City Council, said: “The city puts a huge amount of store and importance by the remembrance parades, both the city centre one and those that take part in local communities.
“It’s to the credit of the people of Sunderland that we have such huge turnouts, both centrally and locally, to respect those who have and continue to provide service to their country.
“This council on instructions of the leader continues to ensure that those events are properly marshalled and properly supported.”